Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's Not For Me To Be Meddling Or Anything, But To The People Of Iran: You're Welcome!

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'Privately, Obama advisers are crediting his Cairo speech for inspiring the protesters.'

Remember how it was important to recognize that these protests in Iran were triggered by ordinary Iranians' response to the election, and it was important for the U.S. government to be quiet, soft-spoken, and understated in its response to evolving events? Remember when the most important thing was that the Iranians, and the world, conclude that this uprising was generated entirely by internal sources?

Yeah, apparently that's no longer the case:

Obama's approach to Iran, including his assertion that the unrest there represents a debate among Iranians unrelated to the United States, is an acknowledgment that a U.S. president's words have a limited ability to alter foreign events in real time and could do more harm than good. But privately Obama advisers are crediting his Cairo speech for inspiring the protesters, especially the young ones, who are now posing the most direct challenge to the republic's Islamic authority in its 30-year history.

One senior administration official with experience in the Middle East said, "There clearly is in the region a sense of new possibilities," adding that "I was struck in the aftermath of the president's speech that there was a connection. It was very sweeping in terms of its reach."

So, remember, it's very important that we not react to this uprising in an antagonistic way, and all of our efforts at re-engagement with Iran have to continue, even inviting their diplomats to July 4 parties at our embassies abroad. But when we do see popular uprisings against the regime, remember that the credit really goes to President Obama.

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